Regain Control Over Your Calendar with the ‘4 Buckets’ Trick

In the dynamic world of running a business, where each day brings a cascade of seemingly urgent tasks, it’s easy to pack your calendar to the brim. How do you ensure that your days are productive and contribute to your overall goals? One of the best ways is to look at highly successful leaders who have mastered prioritization and time management.

Bill Gates’ Approach to Reducing Procrastination

Bill Gates, who founded the world’s biggest software company, Microsoft, in 1975, is someone who you would expect to be busy and have many demands on his time. You might be surprised to learn, however, that Gates divides his schedule into 5-minute slots. This methodology is not the only tool Gates uses to accomplish his most important tasks. After all, it is possible to complete tasks throughout the work day and never get to the most important ones, a procrastination phenomenon known as “priority dilution.”

So, Gates uses a trick to make sure his work contributes to his overall goals. He divides his task list into four “buckets,” each taking up 25% of his time. When it comes to your work day, choose categories, or buckets, that apply to you and your organization. For example, you could divide your work up into people tasks, such as hiring, recruiting and time management, company management, marketing and customers. If one of these buckets starts to get too full, it might be time to reorganize. For example, if your “people” bucket is getting overloaded, you might need to look at hiring more HR staff you can delegate to. If your “customers” bucket is taking up too much time, perhaps consider bringing in a customer services manager.

Try Color Coding Your Buckets

Some CEOs use a similar system to Bill Gates’, but with their own refinements. Tobias Lütke, the founder of online retail giant Shopify, has four categories he uses, similarly to Gates, but blocks them out on his schedule by color. Using this approach, he is able to see at a quick glance if the week’s schedule is in line with his overall priorities. Lütke is also a proponent of working smarter, not simply working more hours. As he’s shared in interviews, Lütke believes that everyone gets only 5 creative hours a day. The important thing is to make the most of those hours.

Beyond the buckets, color can also help you visualize your week at a glance. Using color to ‘block time’ on your calendar can illustrate more than tasks or projects meant for work time. Color coding can also be used to indicate breaks, family time, and workouts—all important elements to a maintaining a work/life balance.

The Takeaway
The key to this four buckets system is to align it with the primary goals of your organization or the department you manage. Over time, these priorities may change, as in any kind of business planning, so be prepared to adapt as you go.


The Chamber of Business and Commerce of Centre County is a non-profit organization that aims to support the growth and development of local businesses and our regional economy. We strive to create content that not only educates but also fosters a sense of connection and collaboration among our readers. Join us as we explore topics such as economic development, networking opportunities, upcoming events, and success stories from our vibrant community. Our resources provide insights, advice, and news that are relevant to business owners, entrepreneurs, and community members alike. The Chamber has been granted license to publish this content provided by Chamber Today, a service of ChamberThink Strategies LLC.

Mount Nittany Medical Center Submits Sketch Plan for Upcoming Expansion

The future of Mount Nittany Medical Center’s upcoming expansion project became a bit clearer this week following a presentation of a sketch plan by the developers.

Mount Nittany Health representatives and project developers appeared before the College Township Planning Commission on Tuesday to discuss plans for a 10-floor, 300,000-square-foot addition to the medical center. The presentation of sketch plans, intended to garner feedback before the submission of a final land development plan, shed new light on key details for the proposed expansion.

Ben Burns Promoted To Senior Quality Engineer at HRG

Ben Burns has been promoted to senior quality engineer in the water and wastewater group at Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG). He will manage technical design standards with a specific focus on innovative wastewater-process solutions, biosolids management and energy production from wastewater.

Burns joined HRG in 2007 and previously served as both a project manager and team leader. He is a licensed professional engineer with certifications in odor assessment and construction document technology.

Water and wastewater practice area leader Josh Fox says, “Ben has demonstrated his knowledge and application of engineering principles on some of HRG’s most difficult projects over the past 15 years. His passion for sustainability and renewable energy will greatly benefit our team and our clients. I am extremely excited for Ben, HRG, and our clients.”

ABOUT HRG

Herbert, Rowland & Grubic, Inc. (HRG) is a nationally ranked, employee-owned design firm providing civil engineering, planning, surveying, and environmental services to public and private sector clients throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The firm was founded in Harrisburg in 1962 and has grown to employ more than 300 people across eight office locations.

For more information, please visit the website at www.hrg-inc.com.

Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County launches 2023 National Civics Bee

The Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County is pleased to announce the launch of the 2023 National Civics Bee, a statewide initiative to encourage middle-school students to showcase and grow their understanding of, and their appreciation for, the rights and duties of American citizenship.

The Chamber, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is hosting the Bee in Centre County.

Middle-school students from public, private, charter, and home schools are invited to take part in a 500- word essay competition. Judges will then select 20 essay winners, who will test their civics knowledge by competing in a live quiz event. The live event will be held April 17 in Centre County. The finalists and top winners will receive various prizes, including $1,000 for the first-place winner.

SEDA-COG Announces New Fiscal Controller

SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) is pleased to announce that Jamie Carnes, a 5-year staffer, has been promoted to Fiscal Controller.

Carnes began her career in finance over ten years ago, gaining experience in financial statement preparation, general ledger activity, and capital spending management. Her career with SEDA-COG began with her role as a Finance Analyst, where she served several different departments.

Throughout Carnes’s career, she is especially proud to have worked on correcting and updating outdated and inefficient policies and procedures. “In previous positions, I felt my work only benefited larger corporations. At SEDA-COG, I feel our work in the organization has a much more direct impact on our local communities and the individuals who reside there,” Carnes said.

One of Carnes’ major goals includes supporting the varied programs that SEDA-COG provides.
“I look forward to the opportunities this position offers to grow and advance my accounting knowledge. I am grateful for my experience that will enable me to continue to provide support to the many diverse programs that SEDA-COG provides,” Carnes said.

SEDA-COG Executive Director Kim Wheeler said Carnes is well equipped to take on the larger role.
“Jamie’s experience in the world of finance and the guidance and training she was able to receive from her predecessor, Bo Hornberger, has made her the perfect person to take on this endeavor. I believe that under her financial direction and management, SEDA-COG will continue to make a major difference in our local communities for generations to come,” Wheeler said.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting from Lycoming College in 2011.

As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.